BookPage Teen Top Pick, March 2016
Painful family secrets may be at the heart of the latest novel by British author Jenny Downham, but families change and grow over time, and there is peace and healing just within reach.
Seventeen-year-old Katie first meets her grandmother, Mary, in the hospital. Mary suffers from dementia, and her husband recently died from a massive heart attack. Despite being estranged from Mary for years, Katie’s mother, Caroline, is Mary’s emergency contact. When Caroline must return to work, Katie becomes the main caregiver for Mary, and she quickly realizes that her grandmother’s memories are deteriorating before her eyes. However, the more Mary and Katie interact and take risks together, the more Mary’s memories return, resulting in long-buried family secrets coming to the surface. As Katie struggles with her identity and Mary struggles with her memories, these stories unravel, exposing revelations about all three generations of women.
Downham delivers an engrossing and emotional novel, complete with a thread of historical fiction that employs Mary’s flashbacks as the backdrop to the story. With tremendous finesse, Downham pulls readers into the mind of someone suffering from Alzheimer’s, a place where memories quickly fall out of reach. The story is fluid, perfectly paced and can be easily read in one sitting. This is a heartfelt book that sensitively and honestly reveals family issues, and it’s one that teens won’t want to miss.